Ithaca College Students to Pitch Proposals in Business Idea Competition

ITHACA, NY — Over $85,000 in prize money and possible startup funding is at stake when the 12 finalists in the Business Idea Competition sponsored by the Ithaca College School of Business pitch their proposals to a team of judges. The business ideas range from innovations in health care to new apps for mobile phones to unique new consumer products.

Members of the campus and local communities are invited to attend the presentations, which will be given at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 10, in Emerson Suites, Phillips Hall.

The competition was inaugurated this fall to get students excited about thinking up new business ideas while providing an opportunity for them to learn about brainstorming and idea qualification, practice pitching ideas on a tight timeline in a business format and connect with distinguished alumni and community members.

The inspiration for the competition came from discussions between Mary Ellen Zuckerman, dean of the School of Business, and Christopher Burch ’76, who got his own start in business selling sweaters on campus while still a student.

“We were talking about what’s important in business education, and he really believes in hands-on opportunities for creativity, disruption and innovation,” said Zuckerman. “We think this initiative will provide students with the opportunity to nurture and develop their creative concepts, and the environment where they can work on turning them into viable businesses.”

The chairman of J. Christopher Capital and cofounder of the Tory Burch women’s fashion label, Burch has spent more than three decades as an entrepreneur and investor focused on luxury and technology brands. He is underwriting the competition.

“I think it’s great to motivate students to create new things and to think in new ways that challenge the norm,” said Burch. “I like that there is an element of competition to give them some rewards for their hard work. I also think that these programs will help prepare them for the real world.”

The competition was open to all Ithaca College students. Nearly 50 ideas were initially submitted, with 24 individuals or teams ultimately presenting to the judges, who whittled down the list to four finalists in each of three tracks: sustainability, international and highest profit growth.

At the finals, each team will have four minutes to present their proposal and then four minutes to answer the judges’ questions. In addition to prize money awarded to the top three teams in each category, finalists will be eligible for up to $5,000 in funding to pursue their business idea.

Serving as judges along with Burch are Jennifer Tegan, partner and vice president for finance/administration with the Cayuga Venture Fund; and Greg Hartz, president and chief executive officer of Tompkins Trust Company.

For more information, visit or contact Dylan Schoch in the School of Business at or 607-274-3341.

Business Idea Competition